The Artist as Jeweler

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, Rabbit Necklace, 2005-2009, platinum, 3 in pendant / 29 in chain, D. Venet Collection

Something unexpected has happened.  Artists like Jeff Koons and Anish Kapoor, who are renowned for their monumental works, have turned their attention to jewelry, small intricate accessories that I’m sure all of us want to bring home.  Bass Museum of Art’s current exhibition showcases some 200 jewelry pieces by 135 artists.  These wearable artworks belong to collector Diane Venet who became fascinated when her then husband, sculptor Bernar Venet, rolled a thin piece of silver around her finger to form a wedding ring.  Since then, she has acquired jewels made by artists, as well as commissioned pieces by Kader Attia, John Chamberlain, Wim Delvoye, Orlan, and Frank Stella.

While building her collection, she explained, “I’m careful to ask only those artists whom I think will find the request challenging and fun.  It’s important they recognize that the jewel should be seen as an extension of their art-making.”

Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik, Sense Amplifier – Inhibit Driver, 2012, necklace, mixed metals and plastic, 35 cm x 11.5 cm (with chain); 13.5 x 11.5 cm (pendant), N. Seroussi Collection

Lee Ufan

Lee Ufan, Untitled, 2012, sterling silver, D. Venet Collection

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dalí, Cuillére avec montre-peigne (spoon with comb), 1957, brooch, gold, midnight blue enamel, 11.2 x 2.5 cm, D. Venet Collection

The jewelry on display are exceptional and little-known pieces by famous artists such as Max Ernst, Andy Warhol, Georges Braque, Louise Bourgeois, Lucio Fontana, Salvador Dalí, Louise Nevelson, Man Ray, Anthony Caro, and Yoko Ono.  Often conceived for a friend or a loved one, several of these jewelry pieces reveal a surprising tenderness about these well-known artists. These wearable sculptures are presented in three categories – the Early Masters, Representational, and Abstraction – with sections devoted to the human figure, nature, Pop subjects, words, geometry, and new technologies and materials.

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, Modern Head, 1968, brooch, enamel on metal, 7.8 x 5.8 cm, D. Venet Collection

Located at 2100 Collins Avenue
in Miami Beach, the Bass Museum of Art is open from 12 noon to 5 pm, Wednesdays to Sundays.

x Sybil

(Images from Bass Museum of Art)

Urban Safari: Natsumi Ivaraki

At the recent Hello Shibuya event, we chanced upon URBAN SAFARI, an accessory label which features handmade animals. It may look like advanced handicraft to some but if you look closer, the work is amazingly delicate and realistic.  I’m not animal lover but I was very impressed.

I think nothing expresses the spirit of the label better than the poem by its creator.

Crowned lemur

I want to be like them:

their lively body, their beautiful curves,

their defying eyes, their cool figures.


I want to live like they do: with such unflattering,

unperturbed, unyielding and lofty mind.


Do they also have the moment:

when they are likely to be suffocated by depression


which can never be spoken or likely to be oppressed

with jealousy or hostility?


It may be that they’ve torn it all up

and been making their way with their eyes set forward.


“I want to be strong like they are.”


I will live strongly with wildness,

which makes them colorful, on myself: wearing wildness.

ZebraLechweNumbatSpotted cuscusLion

Way cute. I’ll definitely be tempted to get one when I come across them again.

x Sybil

(Images from URBAN SAFARI)

Increasing Value: Lauren Vanessa Tickle


$32.00 Brooch, US Currency, Silver, Latex, and Monofilament, 2012

It’s not the first time an artist is working with money, more specifically currency notes but it is the most wearable I’ve seen thus far.  Lauren Vanessa Tickle has created a series of jewellery using currency notes craved out so beautifully, the reason is earrings, necklaces and brooches that are unexpectedly feminine and delicate.

Tickle explains, “I force wearers and observers to reflect on the concept of adornment in our society. One of the most conscious actions humans undertake is the decision of what to wear or not. My work takes underlying materialism and makes it explicit, imploring evaluation from all sides in each social context.”


$300.00 Necklace, US Currency, Silver, Latex, and Monofilament, 2011


$54.00 and $22.00 Brooches, US Currency, Silver, Latex, and Monofilament, 2012

Tickle graduated in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts, Jewelry and Metalsmithing. She is also one of eight young contemporary jewelry artists chosen to exhibit work in PREZIOSA Young.  The PREZIOSA contemporary jewellery Young Exhibition was shown in Munchen, Germany in February and will be travelling to Legnica, Poland, for the Silver Festival in May to June 2013 before concluding in Firenze, from 21 June to 20 July 2013, at the Marino Marini Museum for Contemporary Arts.


Weighing $16.00 Earrings, US Currency, Latex, Silver, and Monofilament, 2012

I’m always fascinated with the conception of buying money with more money and Tickle’s artistic process is transparent.  You can buy the $16 earrings for $150.  Take it or leave it.

X Sybil

(Images from Lauren Vanessa Tickle)

Georgia Hardinge X River Island

As you may know, I am a big fan of collaborations.  Whether the collaborations turn out well is a different story but most of the time, they turn out great and exciting, showcasing fresh new perspectives.

This time round, it’s Georgia Hardinge with River Island.  I love Georgia’s work for her sculptural aesthetics and ethereal prints, and this collection seems to have maintained the aesthetic even though it’s high street. Quite an amazing attempt I must say.

Inspired by the work of surrealist sculptor and painter, H.R. Giger, Georgia Hardinge created a 14 piece collection of clothing and accessories with 2D prints that look beautifully 3D.

Expect a specially made film created by film maker Alex Turvey which will be shown during London Fashion Week’s biannual Fash/ On Film Festival; an initiative created by River Island and British Council to give film in the fashion industry a boost.

See the teaser of the trailer here. Sensual and mysterious.

Love the statement piece. Can’t wait for the rest of the collection!


X Alex

(Images from guardian, river island, Georgia Hardinge fb)



Yes! I had the good fortune of timing my vacation last December to Chanel’s The Little Black Jacket exhibition in Berlin and I was so excited! It was an inspiring visit, needless to say.  It’s fascinating to see some many variations of one little black jacket and how it can work for everyone; male, female, androgynous.






The exhibition venue was right next to the subway station with security staff who looked like they are models dressed in Chanel.  There were also staff giving out free exhibition posters. How cool is that!  The space was quite dark but I managed to take a few exhibition shots.  Over 100 photographic prints were on display with the little black jacket modelled by a range of friends of the Chanel House, from actors, musicians, designers, models, writers to directors.  They include Sarah Jessica Parker, Kanye West, Anna Wintour, Kirsten Dunst, Uma Thurman, Tilda Swinton, Baptiste Giabiconi, Yoko Ono and many more.

The entire exhibition is really well documented on its webite with great “Making of” behind the scenes photos such as the one of Daphne Guinness and Ken Hirai below.

The exhibition is still touring.  You never know, it might travel to your city next week!

x Sybil

(Images by Sybil and from The Little Black Jacket)

Reliquaries: Ashley Gilreath

I Am Who They Were1

When I first came across this necklace by Ashley Gilreath, I was elated to see such a beautiful piece of jewelry and a true work of art.  Yes, it’s like you’re wearing your family tree on your neck but for people who value their heritage and roots, this piece of wearable art will be very meaningful.


Gilreath is trained in metal design and is currently an Artist in Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee.  Exploring boundaries, she ventured into the field of wearable art and the results are magnificent.  She explained, “I think to grow as a metalsmith, I need to work on becoming more comfortable with producing multiple pieces.”  Her experimentation with wearable art seems to delve into with memories and identity.  Her works are visually haunting in an almost melancholic manner.  Needless to say, I love it and would love to commission a piece when the time is right.

I Am Who They Were

I Am Who They Were, 2011, casted sterling silver, casted bronze,microscope glass, transparent decal


In Gilreath’s words: This necklace was made to represent the memory of my grandparent’s long staircase in their house. I want the viewer to see my history as the necklace wraps around, and to feel the sensation of climbing up and down the stairs as the images of my family line the walls. More importantly, I wanted my skin to show through as my family’s skin, so that my stories, my life and who I am as an individual is shown as the sum of all of the people that came before me.  I casted dollhouse frames from sterling silver and bronze, and printed my family directly onto the glass. I created a box clasp mechanism to support the weight of my loved ones.

Tie clip for David

Tie Clip For David, 2009, sterling silver, cuttlefish casting


Gilreath made this for a friend who is a biologist, specializing in small mammals; specifically bats.  The tie clip features a replica of a bat wing, using casted and fabricated metal.

Keeping Time In The Kitchen

Keeping Time In The Kitchen, 2010, sterling silver, casted rosemary, garlic


Gilreath explained, “This piece was inspired by the antique women’s pocket watch brooches. Traditionally used to keep time in the kitchen or while doing other household chores, the watches themselves were positioned upside down, so that when the wearer gazed down to check the time, it appeared right side up from their vantage point.”

Traveling With Me

Traveling With Me, 2007, sterling silver, photograph


This ring features Gilreath’s grandmother’s high school portrait.  I love the design of the ring and the delicate craftwork involved.  Gilreath speaks about honoring the history of her family and I think this ring is a noble example of that respect and tribute to her heritage.


In her words: Historically, reliquaries are containers used to preserve the remains of an individual, and often are illustrative in nature. With my work I attempt to honor the history of my family.  Having thoroughly researched my family’s past, whether through taped interviews of elderly members or digging through generations old documents, I investigated the lost biographies of those who had died long ago. The everyday experiences they shared interested me the most, and how they interacted with the people whose lives intersected their own. My pieces open and close, representing the dynamics of human relationships we experience in life. The found materials I incorporate in each work also play an important role in narrating the stories of the individual.


Confronting the history of one’s family and its antiquity often requires courage and resolution.  Hopefully one day I will be ready to do so and when the time comes, I too will wear a necklace which honours my ancestors.


x Sybil

(All images from Ashley Gilreath)

Ying Gao: Interacting with Fashion

I came across Ying Gao’s work some time back when I was searching for futuristic fashion, and was so excited when I saw the video of how her clothes literally respond to light, sound and movement.

“Montreal-based fashion designer and professor at UQAM, recipient of the Phyllis-Lambert Design Montréal Grant, Ying Gao questions our assumptions about clothing by combining urban design, architecture and multimedia. She explores the construction of the garment, taking her inspiration from the transformations of the social and urban environment. She is the only fashion designer included by the British magazine Wallpaper in its Canadian Top 40. Recognized worldwide, her designs are frequently shown in museums and galleries. Design is the medium, situated in the technological rather than in the textile realm.”

The videos should speak for themselves:

Ying Gao Playtime Interactive fashion

Ying gao Walking City

Ying Gao Living Pod

Ying Gao The Show still goes on

Clothes that respond to light, sound and movement. So poetic, mysterious and delicate.

“Sensory technologies allow garments to become more playful and interactive. Ying Gao explores both the status of the individual, whose physical contours are transformed by external interferences, and the garment’s function as a fragile protective space. Her work testifies to the profound mutation of the world in which we live and carries with it a radical critical dimension that transcends technological experimentation.”

Maybe it is the need for amusement that keeps man seeking for something that they have never seen before, or for clothes that almost feel like they have a life of their own. I wonder what the future holds to feed this insatiable need.

Find out more about this talented lady here.


X Alex

(Images from Ying Gao)

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